Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mary E. Brayton

Bryn Mawr College, where I spent the weekend, is one of the leading women's colleges in the country and has been so since its founding at the end of the nineteenth century. While examining my room I found a column of small plaques listing the various girls who had apparently dormed in the room. My historical interest aroused, I began examining the names. At the bottom was one Mary E. Brayton of '01. (That is 1901, not 2001.)

Who was this woman who first lived in the room that I briefly occupied? From a quick internet search, here is what I have discovered so far. Mary Elizabeth Brayton was born in 1880 to Thomas Edward and Martha Brayton in Fall River Mass. She was tutored as a child and attended the B. M. C. Durfee high school to prepare for Bryn Mawr, suggesting a privileged background. Mary graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1901 with a focus in French and Latin. After graduating, she eventually returned to Fall River where she married Edward Ira Marvell in 1912. The fact that Mary, as woman living in early twentieth century America did not marry until her thirties may be explained by the fact that she traveled abroad five times and was active in Episcopalian missionary activity. Mary and Edward lived on 338 Locust St. in Fall River. On a local front, Mary was active in the women's suffrage and labor movements, serving on the Bureau of Women's Educational and Industrial Union of Boston and as the treasurer of the Fall River's Working Girl's Club. She was also into theater and golf. As of 1917, Mary had a son and a daughter.

There is an Abby Slade Brayton Durfee and Mary Brayton Durfee Brown Scholarship Fund at Bryn Mawr for students of English or American descent (was this meant to exclude blacks?) and descendants of the class of 1894, which was established in 1924. Though I am not sure if there is any connection.

If have not been able so far to follow Mary's story past 1917. If any of her descendants find this blog post and wish to fill in the blanks I would be grateful.    

No comments: